Aje had been an established brand in Australia for many years. Their unique stores can be found across the country. Prior to the opening of the Bondi Junction store, they opened their first two international stores in New Zealand. Prospace was asked to meet the Aje team at their newest proposed location, in Westfield Bondi Junction. Their site was the existing Sportmax Code store on L3, outside the entry to David Jones. A prominent corner site, this space presented a challenge – its unique shape + size.
Mid pandemic, the words “adaptive re-use” had never been more important in the retail design world. The days of tenants with large amounts of available capital ready to drop on the latest flagship were, at the very least, on a hard pause, if not gone completely. While the site’s shape was challenging, it had many positives. In fact, the more time we spent in the space, we realised that there were more positives than negatives about the existing fitout. The ceiling was in great condition, the lights functioning perfectly, the existing storage rooms were functional, and the shopfront was still standing, and structurally sound – clad in high-grade travertine, one of the key finishes of the Aje store design palette.
The Challenge of the layout was twofold – the first issue was the amount of direction changes the perimeter had. Where in the past many of the Aje fitouts were neat, clean, square (or long) giving ample opportunity to apply the typical format of an Aje store i.e., fitting rooms to the rear, hanging + floor-mounted rails along the walls, with their large point of sale in the centre of the store. The second was the amount of product they required to sell in the store.
The multiple layouts and iterations developed never seemed to meet the brief – to have a certain amount of product while maintaining the feeling of raw beauty, effortless cool and tough femininity so obvious throughout the Aje portfolio of stores – with a moment within the existing shopfront zone. But the solution? It was quite simply, squeezing a round peg in a square hole…
A central radius point was picked in the centre of the store; a new counter designed, and all circulation spaces taken in concentric circles, offset from the counter. The negative spaces created by the curved walls created opportunities for additional storage with concealed access – something of a luxury in a 57m2 site.
The landlord was supportive and completely understanding of the times we were in – working with us to decide what could be retained or removed. They were happy to maintain the shopfront and an organic, flowing pattern was created using 2 of the fitout’s finishes; textured render + linear trowelled render overlaid on top of the existing travertine shopfront cladding. The textured render finish features extensively throughout the store, with their aged copper rails suspended from the ceiling, following the curve of the walls pausing for mirrors and accessories shelving, with the recognisable Aje fitting room arches finished in a venetian plaster render and soft linen curtains. A new T-shirt bar was incorporated into the point of sale.
Photography: Kristina Yenk
With the final touches from the two founding members of Aje – a pendant hand-picked by Edwina Forest, and the signature floor finish by Adrian Norris, the store was complete – capping a complete transformation of the space while utilising most of the existing fitout elements.
By Joseph Grieco
Design Lead at Prospace Australia
Joe brings extensive background in Architecture delivering award-winning projects both locally and abroad. With further experience working within the asset management space, Joe uses his well-rounded skill set to the advantage of our clients.
With a practical approach to design, finding solutions that are fit for the brand and budget are key to the way Joe delivers and the direction he steers our team. Being brought up in the construction industry, from a young age the family business provided an intimate knowledge of construction methods and detailing.